Life In the Big Green Jolly

Embrace local. Explore often.

Embrace local.  Explore often.

Hiking Gem: Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve

rock squeeze trail at Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve

Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve is 75 acres of beauty, a peaceful preserve with some unexpectedly interesting rock features.

It’s conveniently located in the Hocking Hills area, about 35 minutes SE of Columbus, Ohio. While it’s not a huge hiking area, it’s well worth spending an hour or 2 there if you are in the area.

Hiking at Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve

Walk-thru of Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve

Their website lists 1.2 miles of trail but we clocked 2.25 miles including the stroll through the pollinator gardens located by the parking lot.

The trails are classified as “strenuous,” which means it’s best to wear solid hiking shoes (flip-flops wouldn’t be a good choice). Depending on your fitness level, you might consider it moderate. The trail climbs up a bit, including a squeeze through some rock cliffs.

Technically, there are 3 trails: the orange loop, the blue loop, and the nature walk thru the flower area.

If your group includes small children, keep them within an arm’s reach as there are a few steep drop-offs.

Sights to see include:

  • Great Rhododendron (blooms June/July)
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Cool cliffs and rock features

How to Get to Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve

The best way to get to the preserve is to follow the brown signs off of highway 33 for Wahkeena Nature Preserve. Don’t follow Google maps – it’ll lead you astray.

As you turn past the compressor station, pull into the little gravel lot that looks like it’s for the utility workers. A peek down the lane and you’ll see the sign for the preserve almost hidden from view.

Things to Do in the Area

Don’t miss a stop at the Hocking Hills Market, located 5 miles east on Highway 33. There are plenty of crafty vendors to explore. We recommend visiting Ted’s Pepper Butter booth for their free samples that’ll sucker you into buying at least a jar or 2 of goodness.